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Free Content Palatability of Five Caribbean Ophiuroids

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The feeding preferences of fishes for five Caribbean ophiuroid species were tested in a shallow back reef in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Wrasses, Halichoeres bivittalus, and juvenile Sparisoma parrotfish were the principal predators of tethered ophiuroids, selecting their prey visually. The ophiuroids were ranked, from most to least susceptible: Ophiocoma pumila > Ophiocoma echinala > Ophiolepis impressa > Ophioderma appressum = Ophiothrix oerstedi. These differences are at least partially explicable in terms of the mechanical properties of the ophiuroid species. Although it was least preferred, O. oerstedi was readily eaten in the absence of other prey at several sites, suggesting that H. bivittatus and Sparisoma spp. are opportunistic feeders.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1988

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